HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn

It looks like somebody finally got Hemingway right in a movie. Halleluiah! Take a gander at this trailer for HBO’s upcoming Hemingway & Gellhorn. It covers the tempestuous‚ and that’s sugar-coating it‚ marriage of Ernesto and Martha Gellhorn. They met in a Key West bar (where else) in 1936 while he was married to Pauline, his second wife. This was a dry period for him; he was spending more time fishing/hunting/boozing than writing while basking in his fame and profits from A Farewell To Arms.

He needed to get a book going and knew it, but to do that, as Scott Fitzgerald astutely observed, he had to have the emotional high of being in love with a new woman in order to produce top work. He did release Green Hills of Africa and To Have and Have Not during this time but both are far from his best efforts. Green Hills is of some interest as Ernesto’s initial tinkering with the concept of the nonfiction novel. To Have has some solid scenes but mostly is a piker.

Then along comes Marty and WHAM! But she was different than his previous wives because she was a writer and was as competitive and plain tough as he was. Their romance and eventual marriage was as explosive as the wars they competed to cover. She was Collier’s war correspondent, but Ernesto didn’t want to look like a wussy sitting home while the Mrs. was on the battlefield, so he went to the magazine and volunteered to cover the action and, of course, they jumped at the idea, so he shafted his wife out of her job‚ mister nice guy! Undaunted, she hitched a ride on a freakin’ munitions boat going to Europe and caught up to him.

Okay, that’s the setup, now have a look-see at the trailer. Director Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff) seems to have nailed it. British actor Clive Owen initially might not seem the obvious choice for Ernesto, but he’s looking spot on. Lovely Nicole Kidman plays Marty.

The film airs May 28.


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Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.